Burgeoning Courses, Lagging Standardization

Article excerpt

Since the advent of the Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986, the requirements for and approaches to joint training and education have morphed across the joint learning continuum. Goldwater-Nichols was hailed as "one of the landmark laws in American history" by then-Congressman Les Aspin. The act aimed to enhance joint operational effectiveness and spawned standards for joint officer management, joint doctrine, and joint training and education policies. To get the joint force qualified to execute these duties, individual and collective preparation within the joint learning continuum includes joint training, joint professional military education (JPME), joint experience, and self-development.(1)

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Twenty-four years after Goldwater-Nichols, the methods to establish joint qualification are described in the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) Vision for Joint Officer Development, signed in November 2005, and spelled out in Department of Defense (DOD) and CJCS policy. Two policy documents that specifically influence joint education and training are the "Officer Professional Military Education Policy" (OPMEP/ CJCS Instruction 1800.1D), which guides JPME, and the "Joint Training Manual" (JTM/CJCS Memorandum 3500.03B), which governs joint training. The OPMEP clearly defines standards for formal officer education in the collective JPME institutions and Service academic institutions, while the JTM lays out the framework for joint individual learning course certification as an annex. The JPME program is further guided and accredited by a well-defined Process for the Accreditation of Joint Education (PAJE), prescribed in the OPMEP and designed to provide oversight, assessment, and process improvement to the JPME institutions.

These policies served well under the rigid standards subject to the joint staff officer (JSO) program that required JPME I, JPME II, and a specified joint tour be completed before a boarding process that chose the best qualified joint officers for JSO designation. The demand for joint qualified officers (JQOs) to perform more and more joint functions, however, has caused the system to change because it was found unable to meet the needs of the warfighter.

What has emerged is the implementation of the JQO program, which replaced the JSO program stipulated by Goldwater-Nichols (see figure). This program, outlined in the 2005 CJCS Vision and corresponding policy, recognized that joint credit should be applied where jointness is experienced, opening up opportunities for joint experience credit to be gained for experiences not on the joint duty assignment list and associated points for non-JPME education and training completed. This process is codified in DOD Instruction 1300.19, "DOD Joint Officer Management Program," and CJCS Instruction 1330.05, "Joint Officer Management Program Procedures," upon legislative authority granted in the fiscal year 2007 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

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In this system, however, comprehensive training and education guidelines for the Joint Individual Learning Enterprise (JILE) level are missing. JILE is a novel term used to describe the collective of non-JPME courses that fall outside the purview of the policies prescribed for JPME. Regardless of rigor, non-JPME courses do not serve as a substitute for extant JPME I and JPME II requirements, but supplement the system and enhance individual joint portfolios, including contributions to gaining JQO Level II status.

Since the JQO system now allows for alternate paths to gain joint credit outside of the original Goldwater-Nichols path, joint training requirements and novel joint officer development opportunities have emerged. Although many non-JPME courses existed before NDAA fiscal year 2007 provided new authority for application of courses for credit toward JQO levels, we have seen a burgeoning array of courses developed by combatant commands, Services, combat support agencies, PME/JPME institutions, and other entities targeted at meeting individual and commander needs for joint experience, training, and education in addition to the traditional JPME formal lanes. …